Tag Archives: January

January is Cervical Cancer Month

14 Jan

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In 2012, The American Cancer Society expects 12,170 cases of invasive cervical cancer to be diagnosed. About 4,220 women will die from cervical cancer. (Society, 2012)  Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia (CIN) is the proliferation of abnormal squamous cervical cells and when untreated in progressive stages can lead to cervical cancer. The cervical lesions  are considered precancerous and are classified in 3 stages. Several factors that may contribute lifestyle, health, access to gynecological screenings, and exposure to specific strands of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).

Why am I writing about this? One, it’s Cervical Cancer Month! Two, plenty of people are diagnosed with HPV (a possible precursor to Cervical Cancer). There are some additional insights to treatment and taking action in health and wellness to prevent viral recurrence. Three, let’s get rid of the stigma attached to it.

Bear with me, there’s a lot of info packed in here with links to additional info. This info is only related to HPV as a precursor to cervical cancer and does not cover treatment for cervical cancer itself.

HPV

An old friend told me many years ago that having HPV was like catching a cold. It was incredibly common, easy to treat, and then you were done with it. Although that may be true for some, HPV strands 16 and 18 cause about 70 percent of cervical cancers.

CIN is also associated with the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).Women that carry the HPV strand 16 or 18 are 3x’s more likely to have CIN3 or Cancer in Situ. (National Cancer Institute, 2005) It is projected that 80% of women will carry the virus by the age of 50 years old (The American Social Health Association, 2012). In addition to it all, it’s asymptomatic – zero signs and symptoms. The virus is transmitted through skin to skin contact (sexual or not). Condoms will provide protection, but they do not guarantee that transmission can be avoided.

Men aren’t immune to HPV either. Doctors are currently seeing a rise in esophageal and anal cancers in men.

Here’s a great link from Huffpost about some common HPV facts.

PAP tests are important. The American Cancer Society control suggests screening to start at 21 years or 3 years after onset of sexual activity, whichever is first.  They’re also great for detection of other cancers.

Can’t afford a cervical exam? Please check out the CDC’s website to see if your eligible for a free screening: http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/nbccedp/

Stigmas

Some people are ashamed or fearful of the HPV diagnosis. There also is a stigma that may be attached to being diagnosed with a STD.  It’s not easily traceable when you were infected with the virus, so knowing how you got it is an unanswered question. Knowledge is power. Self-education and learning lifestyle methods to prevent viral recurrence can help manage those concerns.

A great book to read: “Damaged Goods?: Women Living With Incurable Sexually Transmitted Diseases” by Nadina Nack 

The book is packed with interviews addressing the pyschology and social questions that women face with sexually transmitted diseases.  

Treatment Options

Of a more proactive nature: There are vaccinations that are offered for those that are interested: Cervarix and Gardasil. If interested, please check with your doctor for more information.

After Diagnosis:

The truth is that it’s good to know there are options in your treatment and management of the virus. When diagnosed with different stages, there are two forms of treatment in western medicine: ablation or excision.

The most successful forms are cryocauterization (99%) success rate and cervical conization (98%) success rate.  Cryocauterization entails using a very cold instrument to destroy the abnormal cell tissue.

Conization has a small cone shaped sample of abnormal tissue removed from the cervix.  Laser therapy utilizes a laser to remove the abnormal tissues and has a 90% success rate.

And finally the Loop electrosurgical excision (LEEP) requires a thin loop wire that excise visible patches of abnormal cervical tissue. This method has a 90% clearance rate.  With the exception of the cryocauthization, all of the procedures require local anesthesia.  Side effects of the treatments may have abdominal cramping and vaginal bleeding.

While these procedures can clear CIN, it does not address the underlying cause or ensure complete regression of the virus.  It’s shown that immuno-compromised people can have recurrence of HPV and that 90% of immuno-competent patients will not have cervical cancer.

Other Concerns Women May Have

Some  women have concerns about fertility, cervical stenosis, preterm delivery and low birthrate. Depending on the CIN diagnoses, they may choose complementary methods in healing, in conjunction with their Western medical screenings and care to take action in their healing process.

Can Chinese Medicine Help?

Yes, Chinese medicine can be great adjuvant therapy in the treatment of HPV. Acupuncture  and Chinese herbal formulas will be tailored to the patient’s constitution. Depending on diagnosis, treatment courses (5-10 week sessions of treatments) may vary and last up to several months. Acupuncture and herbal formulas will boost the qi and immune system, move blood (increase circulation) and reduce inflammation of the area.  Formulas vary on patient presentation. Please see a trained herbalist for assistance with appropriate herbal formulas.

A few herbs that are effective: Tao Ren (peach seed), LIng Zhi (Reishi mushroom), Huang Qi (Astragalus root).  There are many more herbs that can help in this healing process.

Tips:

1. Quit smoking.   This impairs the function of your immune system.

2. Get and stay in the produce isle.  Eating a colorful diet in yummy produce will help you with the vitamins and minerals your body needs to keep that boost in place.  Foods that are great for cleansing: garlic, papaya, tomatoes, and mushrooms.

3. Remove the following from your diet can help:  sugar, alcohol, fried foods, dairy. Putting these in your body can impair immune function and make your body work that much harder – when it should be focusing on healing.

4. Managing your stress levels: Prayer, meditation, yoga, exercise and writing -whatever!  Exercise to get the blood moving and the endorphins pumping to feel great and optimistic.

6. Get your check-ups!

I know this was lengthy and not as in depth as I’d love it to be.  Please share this with others and give me some feedback on the topic – questions, etc!

Take Care,

Kari-Ann

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